Farewell Jack Chick

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A few weeks ago, a rather reclusive man who was sort of a celebrity among evangelicals, especially anti-Catholic ones, died–Jack Chick. What? you never heard of him? Count yourself lucky.

Jack Chick was a comic strip artist who used his comics as a means to evangelize, or so he’d have you believe. In reality, he was spreading some of the most insane lies you ever heard. He though rock n roll–including Christian rock–was evil. He thought people who played Dungeons and Dragons were conducting séances and if their characters died in the game, the other players killed them.  I don’t know what he thought of Pokémon or Harry Potter, but I’m sure he made tracts about them too. These comics were distributed at Churches and Christian book stores for years. You can even purchase them on his website. (And no, I’m not going to provide a link.)

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My Favorite Saints: Pope John Paul II

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“Every individual is made in the image of God, insofar as he or she is a rational and free creature capable of knowing God and loving him.”–Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem

This year marks the canonization of Pope John Paul II. He was born in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920, and died in 2007. His birth name was Karol Jozef Wojtyla. He was my pope for most of my life. Like many of my generation, I remember his charisma and his presence in the media.

Karol was the youngest of three children. His mother died in 1929, when he turned 8.  His eldest sister, Olga, died before he was even born. He was closest to his older brother Edmund, despite their thirteen years difference.  Edmund died of scarlet fever, a loss that wounded Karol.

One of Karol’s passions, even in his youth, was soccer.  While in high school, he played as goalkeeper and fell in love with a Jewish girl named Ginka.

In 1938, his father moved to Krakow, where Karol enrolled at the Jagcellonin University. Although he took military training as part of his instruction, he never fired a weapon.  While at the university, he learned twelve languages, nine of which he used as pope.

In 1939, the Nazis closed down the university during their invasion of Poland.  He began to work in order to avoid deportation to Germany.  He received an injury while working in construction that fractured his skull; while another injury left him in a permanent stoop. He lost his father to a heart attack a year later. Then in 1942, he began his pursuit of the priesthood, becoming a priest in 1946. He slowly moved up in rank. In 1978, He presided as cardinal at Vatican II.  He was ordained pope in 1978. He was the most travelled pontiff so far, and served the second-longest tenure in the role.

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Film Freak: Risen

Image: The Risen movie poster, with actor Joseph Fiennes as Clavius
Image: The Risen movie poster, with actor Joseph Fiennes as Clavius

“You are looking for something you will never find”–Mary Magdalene to Clavius

There has been a huge market in Christian movies like God’s Not Dead, Fireproof, and War Room. Even the Narnia movies could count. One I’ve seen recently that I like is the just-released-to-DVD Risen.

Risen tells about what happened after Jesus was crucified. What’s interesting is that the movie isn’t done from the viewpoint of a follower of Jesus, like the Apostles or even Mary Magdalene. Instead, the protagonist is Clavius, a soldier who was present at the Crucifixion (he’s not actually in the gospels. There is a soldier mentioned in the accounts, but it’s the one who pierced Jesus’s side. It’s not said in the movie whether this is the same soldier or a different one.) The Sanhedrin are concerned that Jesus might indeed fulfill his prophecy that he would rise from the dead. Considering all the miracles he performed during his ministry, they have reason to be concerned. While the Jews did want to be free of Roman rule, they knew the danger of uprising. This is why the crucifixion happened, in my theory. Jesus was not what they thought the Messiah would be. He was too kind, not a person who would rise up an army and use His godly powers to make the Romans quiver in their armor. They knew the Romans outmanned them and had better weaponry. They wouldn’t stand a chance. Pilate was also concerned because he wanted to keep his position of power. After all, when Jesus was just a baby, Herod had ordered all Jews below the age of two to be killed to stop Jesus before he could even begin an insurrection. That failed, obviously, because now he had condemned the same man, one he deemed innocent and had only done so to placate the crowd.

I like how the movie sets up Clavius as a protagonist. He’s not presented as a villain. Like the rest of his people, he pays tribute to the Roman pantheon–Mars in particular (Kudos to the writers for knowing that some Romans didn’t worship the entire pantheon and had favorite gods that they looked to) He regards the Jewish god with indifference, and thinks little about this “Yeshua” trouble-maker (Note: Jesus’s name was actually “Yeshua” in the original text, not Jesus) However, Pilate is his commanding officer, so it would be best to see to it that Jesus does not rise from the grave. I love what Mary Magdalene tells him when he interrogates her. “You are looking for something you will not find.”

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Debunking Myths: Do Catholics Worship Statues?

Michelangelo-Pieta

I am currently an administrator in a Facebook Group for Autistic Christians. I decided that as an administrator, I would do what I could to make sure that this was one Christian group that did not exclude Catholics. I made a rule that anyone who had anti-Catholic sentiments would be removed.  One day, a new member saw a post I typed up about the Virgin Mary and accused Catholics of being idolaters.  This is part of a myth that Catholics worship statues. On the surface, it may seem that way when you enter a Catholic church and see people kneeling in front of statues, especially if the statues are of saints rather than Jesus.  It’s particularly glaring when the First Commandment forbids worshipping false idols. Wouldn’t these statues be an example of the idolatry forbidden by this commandment?

Not necessarily.  In the Old Testament, David was instructed to construct the Ark of the Covenant. God told him to place statues of cherubim on it. (Exodus 25:22) So why is that allowed? Wouldn’t that be revering the cherubim?

the ark of the covenant, with kneeling cherubim on top.
the ark of the covenant, with kneeling cherubim on top.

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Debunking Lies–Catholicism: Is The Pope Biblical

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When Pope Francis came to America for the first time, I followed the media’s reports.  While I disliked how the media covered the Pope’s visit because they twisted his words to suit their agendas, what saddened me most was how Protestants reacted. I left several Christian groups on FB because there were several anti-Catholic comments.  His arrival seemed to embolden the anti-Catholics in the group, and it wasn’t just the members, it was the admins–the people in charge of the groups! To these people, the Catholic Church was a cult, akin to Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses. What’s most distressing is that in reality, the Catholic Church is the oldest denomination (in fact, it’s the FIRST). The Christian Church is like a giant tree. At the root of the tree is Jesus. The trunk of the tree is the Catholic Church, where all the teachings of the Fathers of the Church reside.  The branches of the tree are the Protestant denominations. If the Protestant churches attempt to sever themselves from Catholicism, they will wither like branches cut from a tree. All Protestant churches owe their teachings to the Catholic Church, whether they realize it or not.  Some Protestant churches have already started to drift away from Catholicism’s teachings. Believing that the Catholic Church is separate from Christianity is a path to disaster. When I started my Debunking Lies series, I was content to focus only on the lies atheists spread about Christianity. I did not wish to cover the lies spread within my own religion by those who refuse to learn the truth. And yet, here we are. I have decided to extend this series and instead of covering just atheist lies, I’m covering anti-Catholic lies as well. I’m starting with lies concerning the Biblical roots of the papacy.

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Saint of the Month: John Vianney

Born: May 8, 1746

Died: August 4, 1859

Patron: Parish Priests

Info: Vianney was a shepherd’s son and began studying to be a priest in his  20’s. He was drafted into the army in 1809, but deserters, allowing him to come home. The next year, Napoleon granted amnesty to all deserters, allowing him to come home.  In 1813-1818, he began his service as a curate to Abbe Balley at Eully. The next year, he was appointed to Ars, where he stayed till he died. He had a remarkable reputation as a spiritual director and confessor, often spending 16-18 hours a day in the booth. He was canonized in 1925.

Reflection: Catholics are often criticized even today for confessing their sins to a priest.  But confession is actually biblical. When Jesus gave Peter the authority to bind and loose, that included the forgiveness of sins.  It is a sacrament that is unfortunately taken much too lightly in this age. Yes our sins are forgiven, but God cannot do so without our consent.  It is advised that you confess your sins at least once a year (I go twice, once in Advent and then during Lent). I can attest that it certainly is therapeutic, because I certainly feel relief when I am done with my penance.  In fact, my priest actually has his confessions scheduled an hour before Mass. Good thing, because if you do not confess your sins, you are not advised to take communion. To do so without confessing sins is a form of blasphemy.  (We do have the Penitential rite, but that only covers venial sins)

Vianney is a symbol of the need to recognize our sinful nature.  We must take care not to take this lightly because it puts strain on our relationship with Christ and we may condemn ourselves by this neglect.

 

 

Saint of the Month: Ignatius Loyola

Birth: 1491

Death: 1556

Feast Day: July 31

Patron: Spiritual Retreats and Exercises

Info: Ignatius was born in Spain to a noble family and was the youngest of thirteen children.  He joined the military. It was while recovering from a leg wound that he read the Bible and became impressed not only by Jesus, but those who followed Him.

There are two things that Ignatius Loyola is known for. One is founding the Jesuits order in 1534 at the age of 45.  Other founding members included St. Francis Xavier and Peter Favre. The Jesuits (also known as the Society of Jesus) did not adopt their name until 1537, when Loyola became ordained as a priest.  It was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. The Jesuits are now a worldwide organization.

His second noteworthy item was his writing of Spiritual Exercises, which he wrote while on retreat most likely in the year 1522 or 1523. These Exercises are practiced by meditating on sacred mysteries. These exercises are still practiced today by priests and those on retreats.